Good Governance in Africa

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1 Good Governance in Africa By Allan Savory Written 2007 Introduction Zimbabwe is in trouble having repeated the pattern of other post-independence African states. But consider this: The great castles of Britain were built only after the end of Roman colonization, when English war lords battled for supremacy, and kings murdered brothers, wives and others over the centuries to achieve the same end. Only painfully and slowly did the British people bridge the gap between tyrannical leaders and democratic ones to enjoy the democratic freedoms they and millions of immigrants from former colonies enjoy today. In Africa we are trying to bridge this gap in a few decades, and at a time when flaws in Western democracies are leading increasingly to environmental degradation that few would associate with their political systems. And yet they are closely linked. Until all people feel free, secure and well governed none are. Poor land leads inevitably to poor people, poverty, violence, political instability and genocide. These two beliefs have dominated my adult life as a fourth-generation African scientist born in Zimbabwe. Such beliefs led me into political life briefly and then into exile. While the connection between the health of the land and political, social and economic stability was for years denied by most nations, it is now increasingly acknowledged. For Africa it is important to acknowledge that the health, stability and productivity of our land is as fundamental to stable government as is social justice. As a former political ally of Mugabe, Nkomo, Tongogara, Zvobo, Edson Sithole, Dabengwa, Chinamano and many other leading Zimbabweans of all colours and tribes in our struggle for democracy and independence, I know our dreams have gone astray. I also know that when we worked together in Switzerland toward the final stages of our long war we were simply Zimbabweans regardless of colour or tribe with a common aim of gaining our independence as a proud and democratic nation. We have run our ship onto the rocks for many reasons, some of the major ones beyond our control as I explain in this paper. Now once more we have a common aim in working together to get our ship of state off the rocks, upright and proudly afloat. We are not a nation of beggars and we can provide leadership for Africa and beyond. Although rich in resources, many African nations are so financially run down and dependent on foreign aid that they are hardly independent. While the political leaders and parties that led their nations to independence have generally been blamed I believe that blame is misplaced. When a similar fate has befallen most fledgling African democracies, and when changing the party in power has, at best, resulted in marginal improvement in people's lives with continued dependence on foreign aid, it suggests there might be a deeper cause for democracy's dismal performance in Africa. The fact that so many Good Governance in Africa 1

2 countries have experienced the same problems, and that even the economic powerhouse of South Africa is heading down Zimbabwe s path, suggests there might be something wrong with the democratic system inherited by African nations. Blaming individuals or parties in power, rather than looking at the deeper causes is neither constructive nor likely to lead to good governance. The views I express have been gestating over fifty years and especially in the last thirty years following my service in Parliament. I am apolitical and entered Parliament in desperation to fight racism, environmentally-destructive policies, and to try to end an insane war. To the opposition party that I subsequently led, I consistently stressed that I was only a wartime leader and would withdraw from politics as soon as we could end the war and gain our independence. The reason for my refusal, despite requests, to continue in politics was simply that I knew that ensuring good governance was beyond my capacity or understanding. It has taken the last thirty years for me to understand what prevents good governance in any nation and thus what could be done to achieve it. In this paper, I outline new scientific insights that explain why it has proven so difficult for any government of any form to provide good governance. And I explain the shortcomings of Zimbabwe's inherited political belief system as well as the parliamentary and civil service structures that flow from it. These shortcomings made the troubles experienced in Africa s fledgling democracies inevitable no matter who was leading them. Zimbabwe cannot extricate itself from its troubles, no matter how well intentioned its present or future political leaders might be, unless Zimbabweans think afresh. I sincerely believe that the suggestions I offer have the potential, in Zimbabwe s case, to quickly produce governance superior to that of older democracies, and from which they might learn. These suggestions could lead to a Zimbabwean internal solution in which there are mostly winners and few losers and that can be embraced by most of my countrymen and women. While focusing on my own country I am aware that other nations, such as South Africa and Namibia, which are moving down the same path as Zimbabwe, could also produce similar results. The ideas I express are not intended to offend any individuals in any political party but are offered in the hope of encouraging open and fresh discussion to help lead us to a better future and to do so quickly. While concerned with Africa, and in particular Zimbabwe, I draw parallels with the U.S. and other nations for the lessons we can learn. What is it that prevents even the best of well meaning politicians from providing consistently good governance in any nation and not just my own? The level of environmental destruction evidenced in world wide desertification and now global climate change, combined with rising populations and aspirations will demand a greater need for good governance than any time in history. I hope the ideas put forward here will encourage discussion and fresh thinking in countries other than Zimbabwe and among people other than politicians. Just as the finest candle makers could never have Good Governance in Africa 2

3 thought of, or developed, electric lighting, so too politicians are unlikely to see the solutions that ordinary people see with clarity. Section I. Key Scientific Insights Had I, as founder and leader of a political party, not been forced to develop policies in articulating a party platform, I never would have understood that the single greatest role of government is the formulation of policies. While these policies impact all areas of our lives citizenship, taxation, education, etc. it is environmental policies that impact us most profoundly in the long term. Environmental policies directly affect the quality of life people experience, which in turn influences whether they live in peace or ultimately chaos and genocide. Many policies lead to various kinds of development projects. Both policies and projects deal with addressing a problem in some manner and both need to be sound. I-A. Government policies and projects fail to deal simultaneously with social, environmental and economic concerns Governments form policies for one of two reasons either to address a problem or to prevent a foreseeable problem. To successfully achieve its objective, any policy (or project) needs to not only address the cause of the problem but also to address its social, environmental and economic aspects simultaneously. The massive rise in populations and degradation of land underlies most of the poverty and increasing violence being experienced in Africa. Land degradation (desertification) inevitably leads to increased frequency and severity of floods and droughts, with no change in the weather. And desertification leads to poverty, social breakdown, violence, political instability, and genocide. In fact, desertification leads to most of the symptoms African governments, and development agencies assisting them, grapple with, and from which millions of people suffer and die. I-B. Learning what caused desertification led to understanding why government policies cannot deal with complexity as needed. My life s work as a scientist has been devoted to unraveling the mystery of desertification. This process of land degradation, beginning thousands of years ago, has defied our efforts to reverse it and has destroyed many societies and civilizations. What I discovered is that, contrary to mainstream views, desertification is not caused by the many things often blamed, such as overpopulation, overstocking and overgrazing, communal tenure of land and so on. The fact that entire states in the U.S., with low populations, no overstocking, and with privately owned land, are desertifying as badly as any parts of Africa, led me to the realization that we needed to look elsewhere. I believe I found that underlying cause in the way people through the ages have made decisions Good Governance in Africa 3

4 about the land that supports them. Although humans make millions of decisions in many ways, if stripped to the core, like peeling the layers off an onion, underlying even the most sophisticated decision making lies a basic framework. Discovering the existence of this framework led me to understand that all governments, development agencies and NGO's use exactly this same framework when formulating policies and projects. For simplicity, I call this the universal framework. I-C. Universal framework used by all governments to formulate policies Although there are today in business and academic institutions many sophisticated decision making processes, all these processes have the same universal framework underlying them. Conscious, as opposed to instinctive, decisions, that deal with any problem in policy formation are made toward the achievement of an objective. The only tools with which to manage the environment at large considered in any government's (or development agency's) policies or projects fall under the categories of technology, fire or rest. (of the environment). And all actions to achieve the objective are based on one or more of many factors, such as past experience, expert opinion, research results, public opinion, cost, compromise, expediency, cultural beliefs, intuition, peer pressure, fear, propaganda, cost, cash flow, profitability, and so on. There is no exception to the use of this simple framework in conscious decision making; it s what a simple pastoralist family uses every day, and it s what the most sophisticated scientific team also uses to address desertification, global climate change or space exploration. All governments unwittingly use this framework when formulating resource management policies, and other policies as well. I-D. Areas where the universal framework is successful. The universal framework has proven successful in the development of technology from Stone Age implements to the sophisticated machinery used for space travel. The staggering success of technology is overwhelming in improving people's lives through commercial industrial food production, health services, transport, many labour saving devices, and entertaining distractions like television. While our technological successes are generally improving the lives of wealthy people this is not true for most people. Our remarkable technological successes are only successful in reality as long as we ignore their longer term effects on our environment and society. These effects are becoming increasingly serious and threaten the future wellbeing of all nations. In systems science all the areas of success with technology are described as hard systems. Briefly, this means they are designed by humans (a watch, cell phone or a computer are good examples) and they possess these features: Good Governance in Africa 4

5 They are complicated They do not work if parts are missing They possess emergent properties (meaning all the parts put together can do some planned thing like enable you to tell the time or phone someone) They do not exhibit unplanned emergent properties (they only do what they are designed to do) When problems arise, they are relatively easy to solve. I-E. Areas where the universal framework is less successful. To better grasp the areas of our lives where the universal framework is less successful we need to look again to systems science, which also recognizes soft systems (e.g., human organizations) and natural systems (e.g., plants, animals, soils our environment). Soft systems are designed by humans. Natural systems are not. Apart from this one difference soft and natural systems have the same features: They can be complicated, but are always complex, in that they have emergent properties but also unplanned or unexpected properties (e.g., an organization will do what it was planned to do but will also do unplanned or expected things). They are self-renewing They work with missing parts When problems arise, they are exceedingly difficult to solve. It is in those areas of our lives that involve the complexity of soft and natural systems that, using as all do, the universal framework we are running into ever escalating problems and conflicts world wide. Many are the apparent minor successes, but if looked at on the large scale and with honesty we are losing ground as populations rise and desertification and global climate change accelerate. When whole nations, including the U.S., are exporting more eroding soil than all grain, meat, timber, commercial and military products, they are degrading rapidly. The recent estimate of 4 tons of eroding soil annually going down the world's rivers for every human alive tells us about the global scale of the problem of unsound resource management. This digression into systems science, brief as it was, is essential to understanding the unplanned/unexpected emergent properties of civil service bureaucracies inherited by Zimbabwe and other African countries that render good governance impossible, as I explain in Section III. I-F. Why current resource management policies are unsound. For brevity, I mention only the two main flaws in the universal framework that generally lead to unsound policies and projects that attempt to address societal or natural resource problems. 1. Shortcomings of objectives and goals. Objectives and goals (and through them the attainment of missions and visions) do not, and generally cannot, address the social, environmental and economic aspects of a situation simultaneously and Good Governance in Africa 5

6 both short and long term. While very often the objectives and goals of policies or projects are achieved, due to this inability to cater for complex systems we often encounter unexpected consequences and the need for ever escalating fixes of fixes. Whole books have been written on this problem, which I need not belabour. 2. No tool with which to reverse desertification over most of the world. When looking at the three "tools" available to humans to manage our environment at large we note there are two (fire and rest) that promote desertification over the two thirds of the world's land surface subject to seasonal and or erratic rainfall. And we note there is no tool that can reverse desertification (even technology, on the scale required). Thus, it would have been a miracle if land had not been degrading over much of the world and deserts advancing throughout history. The general belief is that there are thousands of "tools" available to scientists and governments to deal with environmental problems. In reality, train in any profession in any university in the world and unwittingly you will only be trained to use technology, fire or rest (of land) to deal with our environment at large. Consequently, most actions and policies involve the use of technology or fire (a major contributor to global climate change). Thus for scientific reasons it is now understandable why no government, or development agency for that matter, has to date been able to produce what I would call holistically sound policies that are simultaneously economically, socially and environmentally sound short and long term. Note: There are minor cases in perennially humid environments where it is theoretically possible for governments to create holistically sound policies but in practice it is rare. I-G. Holistic decision making framework. My quest to understand the desertification occurring in Zimbabwe beginning in the 1950's led me to develop a number of ideas that I was able to test in practice with land managers on four continents. That quest also caused me to look at the work of other scientists in Zimbabwe, South Africa, France and the U.S. mainly, and to gradually develop a slightly improved decision making framework. That new framework is described in Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making, Second Edition (Island Press) Briefly, the holistic framework enhances the universal one with three main additions: A holisticgoal or holistic heading that ties what people value most deeply in life to their life-supporting environment. The addition of two tools that make reversal of desertification possible in the world's seasonal rainfall environments grazing and animal impact from large herbivores such as livestock. A set of filtering questions that ensure all decisions, policies, projects or actions are leading toward the future people desire. Good Governance in Africa 6

7 Like all new innovations, Holistic Management has not been accepted or adopted rapidly, but today the book referenced above is in use in more than 20 universities, and land managers are beginning to reverse desertification on over 30 million acres in the U.S., Africa, Mexico, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and elsewhere. I-H. The holisticgoal, direction or heading. The holistic framework, which is essential to sound policy and project development, requires a holisticgoal, direction or heading to serve as a constant toward which to test objectives, and the actions to achieve them. While objectives, goals, and through their achievement, missions and visions are essential and desirable they have the flaws mentioned earlier: Objectives do not enable governments to address the complexity inherent in either society, our environment or any economy; and, differing objectives and goals, without reference to a holisticgoal, are one of the main catalysts for conflict at many levels of society and between societies. It is difficult for people with different objectives not to come into conflict at some level at some stage. The holisticgoal provides a constant reference point for all objectives. It lays out how people want their lives to be, based upon what they value most in life, tied to their life supporting environment. It works somewhat like magnetic north, guiding your life so that no matter what twists and deviations you have to make you remain generally on course to your desired destination. The holistic framework can be used in any situation, from a single person his/her life, to a household, business or nation just as the universal framework is used in any situation. While the holisticgoal is generally formed by the decision makers involved in management, at the national or international level this is not practical. A generic holisticgoal is used in these cases to guide policies or projects. A national generic holisticgoal would reflect what 99% of the people want and serves as the lighthouse guiding all policy objectives to safe harbour. To enable me to make sure all the suggestions I make in this appeal for national discussion are holistically sound, I needed to work toward a national holisticgoal. Achieving good governance, is afterall, an objective. Many have tried and failed simply because an objective alone cannot deal with the complexity involved. The holisticgoal that I have used is shown in Annexure A and should be read at this point so that readers know what reference point guides my suggestions. I-I. Extent of unsound policy exposed by holistic framework. As mentioned, the holistic framework was developed specifically to understand and reverse desertification practically and inexpensively. Only after its development was it discovered that the holistic framework could be used in areas other than management. In particular the holistic framework could be used to analyse policies and projects before implementation, or to design holistically sound policies and projects more likely to succeed. To do such an analysis is almost impossible using the universal framework. Good Governance in Africa 7

8 For example, in the early 1980's some 2,000 scientists and land managers from U.S. government land management agencies and land grant universities were put through training in the use of the holistic framework, and they analyzed many of their own policies. All those policies, without exception, were found to be faulty with no chance of success. One such group in training made the unanimous statement that they could now recognize that unsound resource management was universal in the United States. Similar training in India, Lesotho and Zimbabwe has resulted in similar findings. Despite the good intent of Environmental Impact Statements required by many authorities prior to policy or project acceptance, no EIS, because all use the universal framework, could detect the policy flaws. The problem is, I believe, universal but could be addressed by any government very rapidly and inexpensively through training, as both the American and Mexican governments are beginning to do. Only when governments are capable of formulating or developing holistically sound policies or projects will good governance become more than simply an ideal or idea. However, other requirements must still be met before all feel secure and well governed. Section II. The Trouble with Political Parties Knowing that one-party systems inevitably end in abuse of power, dictatorship (military or otherwise) and violence, the widespread belief in multi-party democracy is understandable, as is the desire of the Western world to thrust such beliefs on fledgling democracies in Africa. However, the belief that political parties themselves are essential to democratic government blocks creative thinking and I believe prevents the achievement of good governance. I am not the first to see the dangers of political parties to the stability of nations. George Washington, who declined to run for another term as President of the United States, in his Farewell Address to his nation in September 1796 conveyed this warning about political parties: " Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind, (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight,) the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It [the party system] serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another." Good Governance in Africa 8

9 Although the English is of another age the message is clear. African leaders would be wise to heed this warning from George Washington, who led his nation to independence from Britain. Based on my participation in political parties as candidate and/or leader, and based on my observations of the political scene in many countries, I have concluded that the existence of political parties leads to poor governance. In many countries today people demonstrate their disgust, frustration and sense of hopelessness by not taking the trouble to vote. Commonly I hear people say "What is the point of voting, it makes no difference." Personally, I feel this way, too. Deprived of my vote in my own nation, I am eligible to vote in the U.S. but often see little point other than to try to minimize the damage done to Americans by voting for their least damaging party, in terms of the policies that party promotes. For reasons explained below, the party system is simply not working, especially in Africa, and probably never can provide good governance in any nation. In Section III, I outline suggestions for how a non-party democracy could form a government in a more genuinely democratic manner. II-A. Fundamental belief required for party system to operate. Essential to peaceful, civilized behaviour in party politics during elections is the need for both voters and candidates to believe deeply in the idea of a loyal opposition. This concept, which only arose after centuries of struggle and conflict in Europe, is an idea people in Africa and elsewhere simply do not believe. The belief is rather that whichever party gets into power will enjoy the spoils, and had better remain in power at all cost because they will never again enjoy such easy access to wealth. Commonly the party gaining power in the first post-independence African elections will not democratically relinquish power. When African nationalist parties fought for independence under the banner of democracy with the chant One man, one vote, many people like myself, supported their aspirations in our hearts. However, in our minds we knew that what this probably meant was one man, one vote, one time. And history showed this to generally be the case. Once the people had enjoyed their first and only vote, which brought the party of choice to power, that was the end of any semblance of democracy for years to come. Only after much suffering generally is the party in power replaced with another and the cycle continues with successive parties doing all they can to remain in power by denying citizens any further democratic choice. All political parties when seeking power will profess to support democracy. However, parties like people should be judged not by their words but by their behaviour. Good Governance in Africa 9

10 This political party behaviour should elicit no surprise where people do not believe in a loyal opposition. It would frankly be abnormal behaviour if there was no manipulation and violence to varying degrees by any incumbent political party. Some democratic multi-party states, like Britain, exhibit their cultural belief in a loyal opposition through the behaviour of both government and electorate. Each contending party knows that if it does not win it will not be banned and its members beaten, killed or tortured. It will form an effective opposition and have a fair chance of winning at the next election. In such countries the party in power allows other parties to stand for election and the electorate to determine the outcome, as the British government did when the Communist Party sought election. Other countries such as the U.S. pay lip service to the concept of a loyal opposition as evidenced when they banned the Communist Party that emerged in the 1950s. In America, unlike Britain, the electorate was not allowed to determine the outcome. The government banned the Communist Party and engaged in appalling witch hunts, destroying the lives of many citizens. II-B. Parties put their nation first only in times of tragedy or war Governments based on any party system only come close to national unity when political parties collaborate in the national interest under external threat, as in war. Wartime collaboration, however, still falls short of what is required for good governance, and the moment the war is over inevitably the parties are once more locked in power struggles to the detriment of the nation. II-C. Loyalty of armed forces to party In Africa, and elsewhere, parties in power regularly manipulate their nation s armed forces encouraging, even enforcing, loyalty to party above nation. As a soldier and politician, I lived and fought through Zimbabwe's long war for independence. I and a handful of army officers were fully aware that the war could have been avoided had our generals abided by the oath of allegiance we swore on being commissioned. Our Oath of Allegiance was to our nation and not to a political party. On assuming power, the Rhodesian Front party led by Ian Smith soon replaced non-compliant generals. The newly appointed generals, supportive of RF racial policies, soon aligned the armed forces with Smith's racist political party. Almost immediately the party took control of media and the judiciary and overnight any criticism of Smith, or his party, was construed as disloyalty to the nation. Smith did not take long to change the constitution, creating 50 whites-only seats and 16 black "side bench" seats, effectively disenfranchising most Zimbabweans. When, using commonsense, I said publicly that Smith should talk to Nkomo and Mugabe, Smith and a rabble of party stalwarts called for me to be tried for treason. The subsequent protracted war and loss of life was inevitable as was my eventual exile. That the armed forces of Zimbabwe after independence aligned themselves with Mugabe's party rather than the nation of Zimbabwe was in no manner unusual in Africa. Good Governance in Africa 10

11 Nor was it unusual for officers showing blind allegiance to party above nation to be handsomely rewarded. These practices would not occur in any truly democratic nation. II-D. Predetermined party policies cannot provide good governance Had I not crossed the floor in Parliament and formed a political party from scratch once Smith had effectively destroyed all semblance of democracy in our country, I would never have grasped how party platforms infuse policy positions. Parties seek election on the basis of their stated platform, which expresses the general beliefs of the people supporting that party and generally at least the broad outline of policies the party will pursue if elected. However, as explained in Section I, predetermined policies generally do not cater for the full complexity inherent in any country s social, environmental and economic complexity. More so when party electioneering platforms cater to short term emotional and economic voter appeal and are commonly reduced to emotive slogans. Thus it is no surprise that the winning party, representing the beliefs of its supporters, leaves those who backed other parties unhappy and doing their best to oppose such policies. When later the inevitable policy complications and shortcomings cause anger and frustration, citizens start counting the days to the next election. Should another party assume power, the cycle repeats itself as it has over centuries of party power seeking. II-E. Parties with policies based on ". isms" fail to provide good governance. Political parties world wide have as their fundamental policy foundation tried all manner of " isms": capitalism, communism, socialism, racialism, tribalism, cronyism with corporatism emerging currently. No party based on any such " ism" can provide good governance, for the reasons outlined in Section I, and also because there will always be a proportion of the electorate that does not share the beliefs, ideology or dogma of such parties and thus feels neither secure nor well governed. II-F. Parties based on personalities or religion cannot provide good governance. Parties based on personalities or religion tend to lead toward dictatorship or tyranny ending in violent overthrow at some stage either internally, or through invasion when their policies threaten neighbours of another persuasion. It is common for high profile leaders, or parties clinging to power, to create conflicts, even wars or other distractions in order to avoid dealing with problems at home. Although a land policy was long overdue in Zimbabwe, the sudden redistribution of land was undoubtedly such a distraction tactic at a time when unemployment, demand for jobs and other dissatisfaction had led to the formation of a meaningful opposition party. Like most political party distraction tactics this one has proven costly. I will return to the still much needed land policy that still does not exist. Good Governance in Africa 11

12 Parties based on religious beliefs if they cause such distractions against others pose a great danger to not only themselves but also to others. Any party representing a religious group presents a further problem in that today's organized religions are themselves divided and often in conflict. For example 1,000 branches of Christianity alone, poses a problem with any party based on Christianity. Whichever branch should assume power, inevitably other branches resist as years of Catholic-Protestant conflict in Ireland have demonstrated. Generally, all organized religions present the same problem as theoretically even if any one faith was absolutely united not all citizens of any nation are of one faith. An example is Bhutan which is striving for a democratic system and the measurement of progress by Gross National Happiness for most Bhutanese, who are Buddhists, while the Christian minority is reportedly suppressed. II-G. Political parties prone to corruption. Corruption takes many forms, one of which is undue influence on a government to follow policies more in the interest of special interest groups or corporations than of the people who elected the party to power. How else can one possibly explain governments going to war to protect corporate interests in direct conflict with the interests of their citizens? I often pondered why Americans who are so kind and generous (probably the most generous nation ever) not loved and appreciated world wide? To answer this question and how it is aligned to the ease with which political parties succumb to corruption we need to recall George Washington's warning about the dangers of political parties given to his people on gaining their independence. Although I here use the example of the United States, Americans do not have a monopoly on bad governance. International anger against Americans is not hard to understand if one looks at America's foreign policy under either political party. General Smedley Butler one of the most celebrated Marine expeditionary leaders on retiring from the US Army had this to say "I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service And during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for the Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American Republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking house of Brown Brothers in I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in I helped make Honduras right for American fruit companies in In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested." Governments forming foreign policy to serve corporate interests rather than their citizens interests has become more, not less, pervasive since General Butler's time and again I stress this is not an American monopoly. Good Governance in Africa 12

13 Thus, good and friendly people in many nations are prone to end in conflict and war based, not on the interests or wishes of their people but, on corporate interests corrupting party politics and foreign policy. Britain had eventually to rein in the East India Company but not until the company's army was larger than Britain's and the company had its own judges and was even passing death sentences. The Boston Tea Party, where people threw the East India Company's tea from their ships into the harbour, was one of the early steps leading to the American Revolution and independence. The Founding Fathers of America attempted to ensure citizen interests would prevail in an independent people's republic. Remember Washington's warning about political parties the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. Ignoring his advice, the party system was adopted by Americans and corporate manipulation, with willing compliance by political parties and the American judiciary, over the years has led to corporate power virtually running America, regardless of which party is in power. Many corporations operate legitimately in the public interest as intended, but as with political power, too much wealth and power corrupts. There is a justifiable fear today that transnational corporations, with budgets greater than many nations and answerable to no electorate, are taking over where colonialism left off. What s more, these corporations are assisted by the governments of powerful nations and international agencies formed by them, such as the World Bank, IMF and others. The threat to African nations from this new form of colonialism is grave indeed as China and other nations serve their own interests through African political party leaders. African nations, just like the U.S., have not heeded George Washington's warning about the political party system: It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another. Much evidence suggests that political parties are so prone to corruption in many forms that they do little to prevent it. While this is not always so, it is common enough to believe that governments would be less corrupt without political parties. If governments genuinely wanted to prevent corruption, particularly at a government level, they could do so. A poll of citizens in the U.S., Britain, France, Italy and Russia would almost certainly indicate the majority are not in favour of the international arms trade. Despite this lack of citizen support, the international arms trade is one of the largest businesses in the world, dominated by the U.S., Britain, France, Italy and Russia and sustaining endless conflicts, suffering and slaughter of people and wildlife. As I write, the British government is embroiled in a massive high profile scandal over arms dealing with the Saudi royal family. That political parties have generally been at the forefront of corruption in Africa should elicit no surprise. The main difference between our African party corruption and that of the countries mentioned lies only in the level of blatant official corruption and the lack of sophistication. It is hardly secret that many African politicians and officials have since Good Governance in Africa 13

14 independence become obscenely wealthy while their people have been forced to emigrate or fallen into poverty and hopelessness. Only through good governance can such abuse be prevented. II-H. Political parties focus more on staying in power than governance. Rather than maintaining a long-term focus on governance, political parties inevitably exhibit a short term obsession with retaining power at the next election. Good governance demands long term planning and continuity, which is not the forte of parties facing elections every few years. Neither is long term thinking the forte of the corporations that control or influence political parties. Afterall, CEOs of public corporations are legally bound to provide quarterly reports and profits for shareholders and are not answerable to any nation's electorate. II-I. Party manipulation and control of Judiciary and the media All too often parties in power appoint judges sympathetic to their beliefs, making a mockery of the idea of a truly impartial and independent judiciary, which is essential to good governance and justice. Seldom do parties obsessed with retaining power stop at influencing the judiciary. All too often they also manipulate the media and commonly ban independent media organizations. Even in nations where politicians cannot get away with control of the media, collusion with corporations controlling the media is barely disguised. I grew up during the Second World War believing in the independence and impartiality of the BBC, but then witnessed Margaret Thatcher's attempts to control the BBC during the Falklands War. Fortunately, British democracy was mature enough that she did not get away with it. The judiciary and the media are especial targets because any party controlling or influencing them both sufficiently is almost guaranteed success at the poles. This so because the evenness or unevenness of the playing field at elections is not determined on election day but over the months and years before elections where the people's interests are only protected by these institutions. We Zimbabweans should have learned this lesson. So unobservant are most people of the daily effects of party control of media that to this day most former white Zimbabweans are unaware that Ian Smith never even risked facing a democratic election as party leader. Most people had never heard of Smith when he assumed the leadership of a legitimately elected party through an internal party coup. Overnight Smith was Prime Minister, but before ever facing endorsement by the electorate as party leader, he had taken control of the newspapers, radio, television, army and judiciary making a mockery of democracy and fools of most whites. Both black and white Zimbabweans opposed to racialism were left no alternative but war to remove Smith and his party. Having trampled on any semblance of democracy, Smith never lost a single seat in any elections as the success of his party was guaranteed by media control long before elections. The only seat he did not control in a 50-seat Parliament was the seat for a time held by myself because, Good Governance in Africa 14

15 understanding what Smith had done, I secretly penetrated his party to gain a seat and then crossed the floor to form an opposition. So secret had my move to be that only Pat Bashford, leader of the destroyed multi-racial Centre Party knew of it beforehand. In summary, I believe I have given sufficient reason to show that the very existence of the political party system inherited by Zimbabwe and other African nations precludes good governance. Further, it is leading to needless violence at elections and opening our nations to corruption and the possibility of a new and sinister form of colonialism. Already textile workers are idle and without jobs in neighbouring Zambia and South Africa as Chinese corporatism moves in supported by the parties in power. That being the case, let me suggest how Zimbabwe or other countries could form a more honestly democratic non-party democracy in which all Zimbabweans could feel free, secure and well governed. Section III. A Non-Party Democracy and Good Governance My observations and experience have convinced me that political parties need to give way to non-party democracy if people are ever to experience good governance. Until non-party democracy comes about good governance will remain an idea only and never a reality people can enjoy. III-A. Electing Members of Parliament. In a non-party democracy there would obviously be a need to elect Members of Parliament from amongst whom a government would be formed. Below I outline one way the people could elect their representatives to Parliament. It is only a suggestion to encourage discussion. It is certainly not the only way, nor likely the best way to organize such elections. The country would be divided into electoral districts or constituencies much as today but with the district boundaries determined by the Judiciary and not politicians. The aim would be to prevent manipulation of the voter s roles, constituency boundaries and more by the political parties in power. Any individuals could stand for election if their application to do so was supported by a certain number of signatures of people resident in that constituency (assume 2,000 for illustrative purposes). These individuals would appeal for the vote in their area on the basis of their character, reputation and record in the community and their desire to serve their community and nation in this capacity. They would raise their own funds from supporters and stand on their merit. Any candidate for Parliament found to be financially supported by any corporation or special interest group would be disqualified and never again allowed to stand for public office. Given an election in which individuals stand on their merit rather than political party dogma on issues or prefabricated policies, renders it hard for the armed forces to support anything but the state as they are constitutionally sworn to do. There is a world of difference between a candidate standing for a party, regurgitating party policy, deriving support from a party leader who vouches for his/her character, enjoying an expense Good Governance in Africa 15

16 account covered by corporations or party funds, and a candidate who funds him or herself while appealing for support on the basis of his/her ability, reputation and standing in the community. The funds required to seek election by an individual in his or her constituency are miniscule compared with the funds required for political parties facing elections. This alone removes a major source of corruption, one form of which is special interest groups that fund political parties to influence elections in their favour. Having people face election on their merits in their own constituencies would also discourage the trend toward fighting elections through television advertising, which tends to favour appearance over substance. There is no known link between wealth and the wisdom, experience, balanced personalities and intelligence required to run for political office. Such a non-party system of elections in Africa removes the emotional mayhem that results when large masses wearing party T shirts, mouthing emotive slogans, and supported by the police and army, demand destruction of the opposition and victory at any cost. The present need for vote rigging, vote buying, manipulation of constituency boundaries, character assassination, intimidation, murder and torture disappears with the lack of any party to support or condone such actions. And of course such political party behaviour severely discourages confidence in public capital investment resulting in later financial loss of independence and vulnerability to the emerging danger of the new corporate colonialism. A further benefit of such non-party elections is that they do away with the damaging delays and violence that occur when defeated political parties demand recounts and recourse to the courts. If there were to be a request from an individual for a vote recount in his or her constituency there would be no emotionally charged delay in forming a government. Because the government is not being formed from any one party there is no need for a majority in Parliament the cause of so much violence at elections. An election of individuals of character in this manner makes it hard for special interest groups or corporations to bribe, fund parties or otherwise tamper with elections. While this is true in principle, superpower corporations and special interest groups are not going to disappear overnight. Like tobacco companies have done, and oil and coal companies as well as agri-chemical companies continue to do, they will persist in their drive for short term profit while leaving society to bear the true environmental, economic and social costs. Owing to the desire of powerful transnational corporations to control the resources of undeveloped countries in the new form of colonialism, we can expect continued massive campaigns of disinformation from such companies. Power hungry corporations, like the leopard that does not change its spots, will simply change tactics. Thus, there is a need for a living constitution to respond to changing special interest tactics. III-B. Forming a government I use arbitrary numbers for ease and illustration only. Assume a state like Zimbabwe was divided into 200 constituencies based on population distribution, with the Good Governance in Africa 16

17 boundaries determined by the judiciary. At elections, held every five years, there would be 200 Members of Parliament elected as representatives of the people in their constituencies. These Members of Parliament would then form an electoral college to elect a Prime Minister to form a government. The members aspiring to lead and form a government would speak to all MP's and, after discussion, the members would vote for the person they felt most capable and suitable to assume the position. The person so elected as Prime Minister would then proceed to nominate the people he or she selected as cabinet ministers from amongst the remaining 199 MPs. Each of the Prime Minister's cabinet choices are discussed and approved by a 90% vote of all Members of Parliament and thus a government is formed. Requiring a high percentage of support from MPs is suggested in cases such as Zimbabwe because it would make it difficult for any Prime Minister to form a tribal cabinet. The remaining people's representatives in Parliament constitute back benchers who can be drawn upon for the many committees required and who will naturally participate in debates and approval or rejection of government policies. Unlike party selections, this serves to prevent committees of Parliament being selected on any pre-determined party basis, which can lead to conflict and result in people being selected for reasons other than competence. Human nature being as it is we can always anticipate people trying to manipulate the process and to form cliques of supporters both inside and outside Parliament, but in a system such as outlined this does not take on the proportions or dangers inherent in the political party system. Term limits would be applied to any Prime Minister, with terms only extended with some constitutionally-specified very high approval; for example, 80% of sitting Members of Parliament. III-C. Removal of an incompetent government In the event that a particular government should prove incompetent all that would be required for its removal would be a simple vote of no confidence carried by the majority of Members of Parliament. The incompetent government would have no ability to undertake any of the controlling and manipulative actions that governments routinely do today to remain in power at any cost. If an incompetent government was removed there would be no need to return to nationwide elections following lengthy delay. The people's representatives in Parliament would elect a new Prime Minister to form a new government from amongst their ranks, avoiding high cost and damage to the nation that changing any government results in today. III-D. Removal of an incompetent Member of Parliament. With the party system many a Member of Parliament draws a high salary despite non-performance and obvious disinterest in the people of their constituencies (other than Good Governance in Africa 17

18 when appealing for votes). Commonly, many MPs simply follow the party whip, and when not required to rubberstamp party policy can be found in the Parliamentary bar. In a non-party democracy all MPs would have to perform and pay attention to their constituents because they could be removed at any time by a petition signed by a significant number of people in the constituency (5,000 for example high number so that such action is not frivolous). That worthless MP would then be removed and free, if he or she desired, to face others in a fresh election in that constituency. III-E. Preventing issues being decided in secret without open debate. A non-party democracy as suggested removes another evil of the party system. That is deciding on important issues in the dark of secret party caucus meetings with fear of losing party position and privileges foremost in many minds. Only when decisions have been made in this manner, which kills any intelligent debate, are such matters put to the floor of Parliament for a sham debate followed by rubberstamping by party MPs. Having sat through many such weekly secret meetings after penetrating the party in power as I did, I am very aware of just how antagonistic and counter to democratic principle such party behaviour is. There is no substitute for debate in the open light of day to preserve people's interests and ensure good governance. Now let me turn to other structural adjustments that would need to become entrenched in a non-party democracy's constitution to address the current failings of party states. III-F. Independent judiciary The need for an independent judiciary is widely recognized, although often violated either subtly or brazenly by many a political party in power. Anyone doubting the ability of the party system to defeat the best of plans has only to read Gangs of America, by Ted Nace (Berrett-Koehler, 2005), in which he outlines how, despite the best efforts of America s Founding Fathers to ensure the survival of a people's republic, the will of powerful corporations ultimately prevailed through using the political parties and Supreme Court appointees over time. Had the Founding Fathers constitutionally banned political parties instead of trying to curb their excesses through three arms of government, perhaps many of America's invasions of neighbouring countries could have been avoided. Again, the U.S. is not alone, because human nature is somewhat predictable. Examples of political parties coming to power and soon thereafter controlling the judiciary abound in Africa. In my life I have experienced such behaviour twice in Zimbabwe, under two entirely different parties, one pre- and the other post-independence. Various mechanisms could ensure an independent judiciary but without parties to manipulate the selection of judicial representatives there is more chance of sustaining this ideal. Likewise, with no party to confuse loyalty between party and state, the armed forces could more readily be relied upon to defend the constitution and the independence of judiciary and press. Good Governance in Africa 18

19 III-G. Dealing with corruption in a non-party democracy Corruption comes in many forms from minor bribes to low-level officials through to major bribes paid by corporations in the form of kickbacks to high-level officials who can influence government policy or award contracts. Corruption at some level will unfortunately be around for years to come in any society. However, major corruption by special interest groups, corporations and governments that is not reined in poses danger to entire economies, can lead to war and causes mass suffering that runs counter to good governance. Argentina, once ranked amongst the wealthiest countries, was reduced to almost so-called third world status by appalling official corruption. U.S. government policies, polluted by special interest groups, are fueling war in the volatile Middle East. Zimbabwe s economy will continue to slide downward as long as Zimbabwe remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The measures that follow could help ensure strict controls on the most damaging official corruption. A non-party democracy's constitution would provide for a permanent Ombudsman's Office under judicial control. Such office would provide for the concerns of any citizen suffering unjust treatment to be legally and affordably addressed. This office would also be charged with investigation and prosecution in all cases of possible corruption with severe mandatory penalties. Harsh penalties would be imposed on foreign corporations convicted of corruption, lobbying or funding of parliamentary candidates. They might, for instance, automatically having their license to operate in the country withdrawn, and the local officials involved would serve jail terms. Local corporations so convicted would automatically have their corporate license revoked and officials jailed until all money involved in the corruption is recovered. Any citizen convicted of corruption would automatically be barred for life from holding public office and also jailed until all money involved is recovered, returned to rightful owners or forfeited to the state. To deal with corruption is not difficult if political parties benefiting from corruption are themselves rendered constitutionally illegal in a non-party democracy. Unfortunately most African countries moving to a non-party democracy would carry with them a backlog of government and corporate corruption, which the new government would have to address. The key to dealing with this backlog lies in the fact that it always takes at least two people to engage in any corrupt act. Knowing that, a way to initiate the change is to allow a six month grace period in which either party to any corrupt act can report to the Ombudsman and provide details in confidence. Following the grace period, during which no one would be aware of who had reported corruption, prosecutions would follow. Those reporting the corruption and providing evidence would be free from prosecution, although required to return the money gained through their involvement. If the other party to the corruption did not make a report, that party would face full penalties. In this manner many a confession would be made, easing investigation, prosecution, clearing the backlog and recovery of stolen funds. In any country where current corruption is both official and rampant and few businesses or families can keep afloat without at least minor acts of bribery, the initial reporting requirement in the grace period would have to be pegged at a high enough level to avoid clogging the system with petty acts of corruption. Good Governance in Africa 19

20 Having grown up in an amazingly crime- and corruption-free country and then watched it become one of the most officially corrupt nations in the world, I do understand how devastating it is for most citizens. In Zimbabwe, corruption and inflation has siphoned wealth to a few, while destroying the wealth, including pensions, of most of the people. I also learned that the party system, combined with civil service incompetence, virtually forced corporations and entrepreneurs to engage in corruption as the only way in which they could get any business done at all. Doing away with the party system as well as providing good governance, through the civil service mechanisms to be described in Section IV, would go far toward removing much of the reason for people to engage in corruption. An adequately paid and professional police force loyal to the nation and constitution rather than a political party would also go far to address corruption. As long as party government persists the will to prevent official corruption is simply lacking as political parties and corporations both have much to gain from supporting one another under the table. That s why when a new party is voted into office the corruption is generally sustained. I see little difference in the prevailing corruption in Western nations and African nations under the party system, other than the degree of sophistication. III-H. Local Government In a non-party democracy it would be necessary to ensure that what applied at the national level also applied at local government level. In many African countries this would not only apply to local government in cities and towns but also to rural traditional governments headed by Chiefs. Currently in all African countries I am aware of the party system, post independence, has continued the colonial practice of disempowering the chiefs in favour of central government and political party control. This practice, combined with the natural resource policies implemented by governments and development agencies, is helping to destroy the culture and livelihoods of rural populations, encouraging further migration to overcrowded city slums. While some African chiefs struggle to sustain order and culture through their traditional courts, the party system and the degree of centralized control have helped to corrupt many chiefs as seriously as it has politicians. Thus, chiefs should not be immune from prosecution through the Ombudsman's Office. III-I. Position of President. Many African countries want to include position of president, even if it is only ceremonial, and there is no reason why it couldn t be maintained in a non-party democracy. However, the person holding the office would be subject to all the laws applying to any citizen. Any such President could be appointed jointly by Parliament, the judiciary and heads of the armed forces for life (or until retirement) and could perform many useful functions, making this a worthwhile position. III-J. Honouring political parties that gained independence. Good Governance in Africa 20

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